History

Learning From Amelia: A First-Hand Account From the Hill Country

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One reporter’s recollection of the floodwaters from a storm’s aftermath will remind us all the true damage that Mother Nature can call down on the earth from what seems like a diminishing tropical tirade.

Often claiming more lives than the storm itself, the flooding that took place following Tropical Storm Amelia is a prime example. Which is why the days, weeks, and months following Hurricane Harvey will tell the true tale of the Texas damage toll. Making landfall at Corpus Christi, Tropical Storm Amelia touched Texas in August of 1978. Listed as a weak storm at best, it caused minor coastal damage according to Robert Rivard of the Rivard Report. But as he points out, he was a young reporter dispatched to South Padre Island, where Amelia seemed to only whisk by in comparison to the damage it would later do as it made its way inland and stalled over the Texas Hill Country.

Learning from Amelia: First-Hand Account from the Texas Hill Country

Photo: Public Domain Pictures

In Bandera alone, 14 inches of rain fell overnight. Kerrville topped that at 22 inches over a 48-hour window. Reporters and photographers were dispatched to the area to cover the onslaught of torrential rains that swelled the Guadalupe River beyond capacity. Although they struggled against rising floodwaters, area law enforcement heroically responded to reports of drowning victims, thousands left homeless, in need of shelter, missing persons being swept away, and emergency medical attention that was sorely needed. There were even reports of survivors being rescued following a harrowing night clinging to tree tops just above the raging flood waters.

Learning from Amelia: First-Hand Account from the Texas Hill Country

Photo: Public Domain Pictures

Although the National Weather Service had issued flood warnings, no one in the Hill Country was prepared for such a monumental disaster. The towns of Comfort, Medina, Ingram, and the two formerly mentioned (Bandera and Kerrville) were left ravaged by the storm. And as Rivard further reports, Tropical Storm Amelia left Kerrville looking like a war zone following the arrival of the helicopters, military personnel and vehicles, and the small tent city that materialized in her wake.

Learning from Amelia: First-Hand Account from the Texas Hill Country
Photo: Flickr/pingnews.com

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